Legal Corner: If your parent passes away with unpaid debt, are the heirs responsible to pay?

KPLC 7News at noon - Nov. 27 - Part II - clipped version

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Submit your questions to news@kplctv.com. Civil matters only, please.

Question 1: I have a friend who hand-wrote her will, no typing, no lawyer or notary. Is this legitimate? Will it stand up in court?

Answer: There are two types of wills, called “testaments” in the Civil Code: olographic and notarial. Notarial is the most common, and whose requirements can be found in Civil Code articles 1577-1580. For example, the code requires that a notarial will be signed at the end of each page and at the end, and the signature must be witnessed by a notary and two witnesses. Olographic refers to a handwritten will. Both the definition and the requirements of an olographic will can be found in Civil Code Article 1575:

“An olographic testament is one entirely written, dated, and signed in the handwriting of the testator. Although the date may appear anywhere in the testament, the testator must sign the testament at the end of the testament. If anything is written by the testator after his signature, the testament shall not be invalid and such writing may be considered by the court, in its discretion, as part of the testament. The olographic will is subject to no other requirement as to form. The date is sufficiently indicated if the day, month, and year are reasonably ascertainable from information in the testament, as clarified by extrinsic evidence if necessary.”

So, yes, an olographic will is legitimate and will stand up in court if it follows the guidelines in Art. 1575.

Question 2: If your parent passes away with unpaid debt, are the children/heirs responsible to pay them?

Answer: You are not responsible for the debts or your parents or ancestors. However, a creditor may be able to recover from the estate of the deceased. So, if the deceased has property and you are an heir or in the will, and accept the succession, you are accepting both the assets and the debts. If the estate has more debts than assets, you can “renounce” the succession, and refuse to accept it. You can review the statute, Civil Code Article 1742:

Acceptance or renunciation of succession

The donee of a donation of property that the donor will leave at his death has the right to accept or renounce the succession of the donor in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 6 of Title I of Book III.

Acts 2004, No. 619, §1, eff. Sept. 1, 2005.

Question 3: Is it legal for a construction building a new business to operate in a residential neighborhood during the week until 3-4 a.m. and on another instance starts work the week at 1 a.m.? Cops were called but it wasn’t shut down.

Answer: It is NOT legal. Parish Code Article 18-100 (4) says it is a violation to have:

“Construction within 165 feet of a residence between sunrise and sunset during weekdays, and 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. on weekends and holidays, except during emergencies.”

If you call law enforcement, you may want to print out the statute for them so that they do not have to search for it (took me a while to find it).

If within city limits, the law is even more restrictive:

Sec. 13-7-1 prohibits construction between the hours of 7:00 pm and 5:00 am on weekdays, and before 7:00 am and after 4:00 pm on weekends.

Alternatively, you could try contacting your police jury representative and or your city council representative.

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC-TV.

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